After a while, Tony managed to get himself moving again and back to work. Though, to be honest, it was just fiddling with electronics at his desk while his brain replayed the dance and the, well kiss, over and over again. He'd never seen an inkling that Steve might have feelings for him and he'd hidden his teenage crush and growing attraction. Why bother the man when they were just starting to become friends?
"JARVIS, where is Steve now?" Tony asked suddenly, looking up from the computer pad he was tapping.
"He is in his bedroom looking through his final selections for his costume tonight," the AI replied smoothly, if a touch smugly. "Would you like me to have him come back?"
"No, no," Tony said hastily. "Let him stay there. I'm sure he's having a hard time choosing what to go as tonight."
"He has," JARVIS confirmed. "He's been asking me for advice. I told him to dress as the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. The outfit from the ballroom scene."
"Who decided Disney was a good idea for a masquerade ball theme?" Tony asked rhetorically, rolling his eyes. "Refresh my memory, JARVIS. What did that costume look like?"
JARVIS immediately opened another window on the computer pad and displayed the image of Beast's costume. He studied the image, his mind conjuring up images of Steve wearing it. The black slacks had gold piping down the sides and the blue coat had gold trim. There was a white undershirt and a gold waistcoat. Tony had to admit, that costume would look very good on Steve.
"JARVIS, has he made up his mind yet?" Tony asked, still staring at the image.
"He has not," JARVIS replied.
"Advise him to go with the Beast's costume," Tony said thoughtfully. "It'll suit him."
"Very well, sir," JARVIS said. "And have you decided on your costume?"
"Yeah. I'm going as Prince Charming, of course," Tony replied, smiling to himself. This night was going to be interesting.
Steve made his way up to his room, grinning to himself over shocking the normally verbose Tony speechless. He'd wanted to do something like that to the man for a while and the fact that he really didn't know how to dance was the perfect time. Steve had a pretty good idea that Tony had never been exposed to 40's values and the simple kiss on the knuckles would be something he'd never encountered before.
"JARVIS, what is Tony doing?" Steve asked curiously.
"Mr. Stark is attempting to work on some improvements to the Iron Man suit," JARVIS replied smoothly. "Did you want me to get his attention?"
"No, thank you," Steve said, his grin growing again. Just the fact that JARVIS said attempting mean Tony was still frazzled. He walked into his room and sighed as he saw the images still spread out over his bed. He had to make a final decision for a costume.
"JARVIS, I don't really know most of these Disney movies," Steve admitted, crossing to his bed and picking up a picture. "What would you recommend?"
"The Beast's costume is simple and would compliment you," JARVIS replied, pulling up an image of the costume, much as he had done for Tony. Steve studied it and nodded, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth.
"I like it," he decided. "I'll go as him then. Do you know who Tony is going as?"
"I believe Mr. Stark has decided to go as Prince Charming from the movie Cinderella," JARVIS replied, putting up an image of the prince next to the Beast. Steve studied both of the images and nodded again. This could be a fun night.
The Avengers had all arrived separately, except for Natasha and Clint. Tony was fidgeting with impatience as he walked up the steps into the ballroom rented for the night. The Prince Charming outfit was a little more uncomfortable than he had thought. The red pants with the gold striping fit him well but were tight in some unexpected places. The white jacket with the gold braid and gold belt fit snugly, almost snugly enough that it was hard to breathe. But catching sight of everyone's reaction to it, Tony had to admit that the discomfort was worth it. Now just to see Steve's face.
He found Bruce first, the quiet scientist dressed as Merlin from The Sword in the Stone. The deep blue robes shined and Bruce had managed to sew a silver star to the tip of the pointy hat. While it wasn't exactly as depicted in the movie, it added enough of a difference to be interesting. The scientist even wore a white beard that he had braided to keep out of his way.
"Bruce," Tony said, shaking the other scientist's hand. "How are you liking it so far?"
"It's not bad," Bruce replied, arching an eyebrow at the handshake. "Tony, we just saw each other yesterday. Why are you acting like we haven't seen each other in years?"
"Photo opportunity," Tony explained, smiling widely at the photographer who had snuck up to the side of them. "The Avengers getting along always makes good press. And you look good as a wizard. Have you seen any of the others?"
"Not yet but they should be coming soon," Bruce replied. Before Tony could say anything, a tap on his shoulder caused him to turn. What he saw actually stunned him speechless for the second time that day.
Natasha and Clint had come together, dressed as Mulan and General Shang. Natasha was in the red kimono Mulan was married in in the sequel. Though, instead of flowers or dragons embroidered on the red silk, there were hawks and spiders. Her hair was arranged carefully in a chignon on top of her head. Clint was in the wedding outfit Shang had worn, the red and blue shirt and black pants fitting him rather well. Tony snorted when he saw that Clint had even included the winged hat.
"Something funny?" Clint asked idly, glaring at Tony.
"No, not at all," Tony said, struggling to hold in the laughter. "Nice hat."
"It is, isn't it?" Clint said, smiling at Natasha. "I think I'll use it as target practice later."
The two assassins walked away then, mingling with some of the sponsors of the masquerade. Tony shook his head at them; it was odd to see Natasha and Clint working a room like a pair of seasoned business people.
Pepper was the next person Tony ran across, his CEO looking resplendent in the gown Aurora wore at the end of Sleeping Beauty. As a nod to the fairies, the gown was a mix of blue and pink which mixed artfully together and didn't look out of place.
"Pepper, beautiful as always," Tony told her, taking her hand and kissing it. Which, of course, reminded him of the stunt Steve had pulled earlier today. Pepper pulled her hand back, her eyes narrowed at the spacey expression on her boss's face.
"All right, spill. What happened?" Pepper asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," Tony defended himself, raising his hands. When Pepper sighed and crossed her arms, Tony continued, "Well, it wasn't anything I did. Steve wanted to know if he had to dance tonight and I taught him how to waltz. Afterward, he took my hand, bowed over it, and kissed my knuckles just as I did to you."
"That's sweet," Pepper said, the suspicious look fading as a smile crossed her face. "He's very gentlemanly and polite, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Tony said absently. Of course that's all it was. Just the 40's version of saying thank you. "He is."
At that point, Tony decided he probably shouldn't seek Steve out tonight. It was probably for the best anyways; the American hero didn't need to be bothered by a playboy who was just this side of an alcoholic. Tony waded into the press of people, a charming smile pasted on his face as he spoke to wealthy donors and people they'd saved. He tried not to think of Steve, though it was difficult.
Steve was standing at the edges of the party, a little alarmed by all the people here. It was one of the most crowded places he'd been in since waking up and was making him feel a little claustrophobic. He tugged on the collar of his undershirt again, though it was nowhere near tight. He felt out of place in the costume, but didn't look it to go by the admiring glances he was getting. When Pepper appeared, he almost hugged her in relief.
"How are you?" Pepper asked, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. "You look a little dazed."
"I am a bit, Ms. Potts," Steve replied, smiling with abashed relief. "There's a lot of people here."
"Call me, Pepper, Steve," Pepper chided lightly and led him around the edges of the crowd. "There are a lot of people but there are also people you know. Bruce is standing over by the corner if you want to talk to him for a while."
"I would appreciate that, yes," Steve said. "I didn't want to push through all these people just to find someone I knew. It seemed rude."
"I doubt they would have noticed," Pepper laughed. "Rude has changed a great deal since before you slept. Maybe we can dance later? Tony told me he taught you a waltz."
Steve laughed more confidently then, remembering the look on Tony's face after he had kissed his hand. He turned to Pepper saying, "Yes, I wouldn't mind a dance. Tony is a good teacher."
"And so are you, if you can do something to stun the great Tony Stark speechless," Pepper responded, a knowing look in her eyes.
"I have to admit, that was fun," Steve replied, a knowing look crossing his face that matched hers. "Why do you mention it?"
Pepper pursed her lips as she thought, still steering through the crowd towards the corner Bruce had taken for his own. Finally, she said, "I know what Tony is like. I know that caring for him can hurt a great deal. You need to know that."
"I understand that," Steve said seriously, nodding. "I also understand that there are many sides to Tony and I want to get to know them all."
Pepper and Steve reached Bruce then, smiling at the scientist. She turned to study Steve and whatever she saw in his face must have reassured her because she patted his shoulder and nodded.
"Good luck, then," she said before moving away.
"What was that about?" Bruce asked curiously, alternating between looking at Pepper and Steve.
"Something that happened earlier today," Steve said vaguely. "Pepper was just giving me some good advice."
Bruce nodded, his face still full of curiosity and suspicion. But he let it go, for which Steve was thankful. The soldier studied Bruce's costume, trying to place what Disney movie he had chosen it from.
"Sword in the Stone," Bruce supplied helpfully when Steve couldn't think of the movie. "I'm Merlin."
"I actually saw that one," Steve exclaimed, smiling. "When Thor was over with Jane on movie night."
"That actually gave me the idea," Bruce admitted, looking up as footsteps approached them. "It's one of my favorites."
"I enjoyed..." Steve started to say before his attention was completely arrested by Tony. The genius looked stunning in his costume and Steve recognized it immediately. Cinderella was another of the movies he had watched on the last movie night. Tony smiled his usual cocky grin, thrilled to have gotten the upper hand on Steve this time. His resolution had lasted just long enough to see Steve before falling apart. The band started up a waltz, the music slow and stately.
"Can I have this dance, Captain?" Tony asked, holding out his hand to Steve.